Writer’s Camp and Schmooze 2015

Every year, I look forward to hosting my writer’s group to a working weekend here at Poland Spring Campground.  Fall is the time when I transition from primarily working on campground “stuff” to digging into writing projects.  So meeting with other writers, sharing in their celebrations, hearing their struggles, brainstorming ideas and projects . . . it helps to motivate and inspire me.  Spur me forward.

This year, I’m especially excited to share photos of the weekend with my students, because the critique circle, and its rules, are something Shannon and I have used in the classroom  with great success.  Knowing “real writers” use this method to give feedback on their work, makes the students more willing to share and trust in the classroom circle, too.


Bottom of the circle, clockwise: Jeanne Bracken, Denise Ortakales, Mary Morton Cowan, Anna Jordan, Joyce Johnson, Nancy Cooper, Mona Pease, Meg Frazer Blakemore, Val Giogas, Andrea Tompa, Laura Hamor.

The authors and I worked hard, beginning at 8:30 with a “What’s New With You” whip around.  Joining us this Fall, was our visiting editor Andrea Tompa from Candlewick Press. Each author has 20 minutes of time and everyone contributes to the feedback. Once  again, I’m humbled and grateful for the in-person comments, support and loving-nudging that flew around the circle.


We have writers and illustrators, non-fiction and fiction, with picture book, middle grade, historical fiction, and Young Adult manuscripts in various stages.  Some of us are published, some are very close. The projects read this year were absolutely fascinating!

I’m most excited to bring back to the classroom, a picture book dummy from Laura. It’ll be a great tool, when we start our graphic novel unit.


We worked hard, breaking every so often for movement.  And of course, lunch.  By 2:30 we were onto a Q & A with Andrea about the industry.  And by 4:00, it was time to take a walk, kayak or read under the trees, before gathering again for supper.


Top: Laura, Anna, Denise, Nancy Middle: Mary, Val, Joyce Bottom: Meg, Mona, Me, Andrea, Jeanne

And this morning, those of us who stayed the night, met for coffee in the office and decided to go for a quick early morning kayak ride .  . .


In the rain, of course.


The rain passed.  Loons flew directly overhead, so close we heard their wings cutting through the air.  Still other loons called back and forth from area lakes, chorus style.  And eagle flew down the shoreline. The sun came out.  The wind picked up.  We headed back.

Now six of us are left here at the campground, working, writing, revising.  Inspired by each other to keep doing what we love.  Driven to put the perfect words, in the perfect order, to write the story we were meant to write.

And tomorrow, I’ll share all this with my students.

Then ask them to do the same.




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2 Responses to Writer’s Camp and Schmooze 2015

  1. Could there be a more perfect day, or two. Love your poetic and true ending to this blog.

    • Tamra says:

      It was such a gorgeous weekend all around, I’m so glad everyone was able to take advantage of it. Thank you, Jeannine 🙂

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